9 Common Query Mistakes

If you are querying a literary agent, there are common mistakes that are still being made by authors that will produce an instant rejection. And most of the time, these mistakes are made in the very first sentence!

In quotes are examples of what authors have written in query letters.

9. “Readers will be hooked on my novel from the very start!”

Advice: WHY will readers be hooked on your novel from the very start?

8. “I have four books on Amazon!”

Advice: An agent is more interested in how many books you have SOLD on Amazon in a FOUR month period.

7. “There are so many bad authors and horrible books in stores. My book is better!”

Advice: Never be critical of anyone in the publishing industry, especially authors. It’s one thing to burn bridges, but if you come off like a complainer, or give the impression that you are perfect, then who will want to work with you?

6. “Are you a fan of mystery? Then this book is for you!”

Advice: ‘Are you a fan of rejection letters? Then this response is for you!’

5. “I have signed a contract with Lulu for a six book deal and signed a contract with PublishAmerica for a seven year deal on two other books that I have written!”

Advice: Literary agents know that Lulu and PublishAmerica are self-publishers. Agents only care if you were signed by a traditional publisher.

4. “I have been rejected by over twenty agents and publishers so far, but I’m hoping that you are the one that finds my work interesting!”

Advice: Desperation is not a great quality in an author. If no one in the world was going to help you, then what would you do? Proceed accordingly.

3. “It’s difficult to describe my book in twenty words or less. I have attached the entire book for you to read!”

Advice: 1. You must be able to describe your book in twenty words or less. 2. You must follow the submission policies. 3. No agent on this planet will read your book without knowing what it’s about. 4. Agents do not pull up email attachments. 5. If you cannot describe your book, how do you expect the agent to sell your book?

2. (Letter to an agent that represents children non-fiction inspirational books.) “I have written an adult fiction book about the horror of vampire hunting!”

Advice: Nothing irritates an agent more than when you pitch them a genre that they do not represent.

1. “My book will be on the bestsellers list for sure!”

Advice: Be the best seller of your book, rather than telling everyone you have a bestseller.

Bonus Query Tip:

Stop using exclamation marks in your query!!!!!!!!!

And remember that your talent will shine through one day…

Ron Knight


“Simple to read…hard to forget.”

Erotic & Romance Authors, check out the UP Authors contest and build your fan base.


Ron Knight

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  1. Ron, I am rather an accomplished author, with a string of (admittedly) e-books both pubbed and contracted. I have two degrees in the field of writing. One day, in a fit of glee, I deleted every blasted lit agent contact in my files. Why? Because, after using every subtle wile, after slavishly following the agents’ often smug instrutions, after spending literally hundreds of hours writing queries and synopses . . . I was met with implacable rejection. Sometimes nicely, other times not so nicely.

    The one that took the cake was the one from a well-known agency that told me they were “interested” in a certain book; and they regretted that, eleven months later, they had not answered my query sooner. I wrote a polite email back, informing them that in the interim I had already gotten that book pubbed, and that I had contracted several additional books, and thank you very much.

    Query schmery.